At first AI came for the DM. It was convenient for him to generate ambiance images and places.
Then it came for whole locations. It was convenient to generate a place that fitted squarely in the DM's setting.
Then the DM surrendered the setting to the AI. All his previous work was fed into the machine and the setting lived on, and the DM rejoiced at the fidelity of the output.
Then the DM abdicated and became a player. The AI took over the DM's work. Our master enjoyed travelling with us in his setting and being as surprised as he used to surprise us.
The DM, now a player, still had his moments where he marvelled at what he built, or did he merely seed it?
The NPCs were an hint. The AI probably digested a whole twentieth century of movies and tv series and every villain and every sidekick ever interpreted were available. At the beginning the images felt cheap, but when quasi Turing-fooling NPCs kicked in, we were all convinced. And no burnout for our synthetic DM.
You should have seen Galadriel, she was beautiful and terrible and could drink our sorrows or precipitate our joys. The question I keep asking myself, were we presented a single Galadriel or was each player granted his own — carefully tuned — instance of that NPC? At that point, it knew enough about each of us to play us. It knew the specific caress, key to each one of us. I get ahead of my thread of telling.
Since our schedule didn't match, our paths started diverging.
It first manifested along with the usual player erosion. We replaced the absent with AI instances. At first the players wanted to come back and still benefit from advancement. Instances were invoked and given the character sheets, they fed on the session reports the DM AI had gracefully generated (and that we never bothered reading) and they played in lieu of the missing players, and did it artfully.
Players came back eventually. Or did they? The campaign goes on, it's been a while since our DM turned player friend stopped underlining the gilt in the setting. Of course, the AI was put in charge of the hassle of the scheduling. I am playing every week, it is seamless.
Either there is one campaign and our absences are smoothed out nicely, either there are n campaigns and our disbeliefs are suspended in isolation. We are hermits and we do not know.
I've noticed that the others didn't mind anymore my ramblings and my monopolizing the time of the DM. They don't do it, I am the only one to do it, and they do not mind. It points at n campaigns, isolated but surely intertwined.
Nausea comes as I write these block of texts. I know they'll be fed instantly to the machine, shredded to grain of sands and melt with tears for the cementing of my illusions. At least the novel I lost to a Word bug (or some poor manipulation of mine) years before the Cloud will not be thus carved.